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Three drinks on a table from Chiya Chai, all without booze.
Chiya Chai uses South Asian tea to create drinks.
Aliya Ikhumen/Eater Chicago

Chicago Restaurants and Bars With Excellent Booze-Free Beverages

Don’t drink booze if you don’t want to, just please never use the phrase “sober curious” again

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Chiya Chai uses South Asian tea to create drinks.
| Aliya Ikhumen/Eater Chicago

In January, when many have resolved to reduce consumption, non-alcoholic drinks are popular ways to keep bars busy in a month where the hospitality business is down in general due to cold weather and a holiday hangover.

Bigger players are poised to enter the market. Breweries with the means have no worries about selling a consumer a product that may eat away at the profits from other products. Remember the apprehension with hard seltzers? That was a fun time.

But there’s still room for creativity as these bigger companies prepare to offer whatever product is loaded with artificial flavoring. Chicago’s bartenders have been doing this for years, and though the city has earned a reputation for drinkers who savor their alcohol, this city also knows when to take a break and isn’t adverse to trying something new. So check out these restaurants, bars, and a brewery with delightful booze-free options.

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Eli Tea Bar

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This Michigan import arrived in Andersonville to bring both a sober bar and in creating a welcoming space for the LGBTQ community and its allies. Eli Tea mixed up unique tea drink no other tea room or coffee shop in Chicago offers. 

A person pours red tea into glass mugs. Kim Kovacik/Eater Chicago

Nobody's Darling

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The bartenders at this LGBTQ-friendly bar owned by a pair of Black women are always mixing something up lively. The menu features two drinks, but that’s just a sample of the bar’s library. Try the Desire (Lyre’s Italian Orange, passion fruit, lime, agave, habanero bitters).

A bartender holds a metal cocktail shaker inside a black-and-red bar space
This bar’s booze-free drinks showcase summer flavors all year long.
Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Bokeh represents an evolution of booze-free drinks as it’s a newish bar that featured an NA section on its opening menu. Some bartenders and older bars may show some disdain in mixing up an NA drink, but that’s not the case at Bokeh, where patrons can find You’re Turning Violet, Violet (blueberry juice, lemon, sage, club soda), Velvet Turtle (orange juice, balsamic reduction, strawberry, egg white, raspberry dust), and more, proving that NA drinks are more than glorified juice bars.

James Beard Award-winning chefs Johnny Clark and Beverly Kim (Parachute) aren’t shy about alcohol at Anelya, their Ukrainian fine dining restaurant named in honor of Clark’s late grandmother Clark’s late grandmother. But alongside playful cocktails and intense vodka infusions, patrons will find a thoughtful menu of booze-free choices including a specialty Kvass (made in collaboration non-alcoholic drink retailer Proxies), cherry mykulyn soda, and Galicia apple pear juice.

The interior of Anelya restaurant. Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Warlord

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Chicago’s biggest dining surprise of 2023, Warlord roared into Avondale with a brash style, loud music, and late-night hours that still draw long lines of chilly patrons even after the usual period of opening fanfare. And yet, this raucous throwback to pre-pandemic times is evolving, too, evidenced by an unexpected selection of booze-free drinks, deployed with the same exacting standards seen in the kitchen. Warlord is temporarily closed for winter break until Friday, February 2.

FAFO at Evette’s Lakeview

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A defiant late-night pop-up from industry veteran Rafa Esparza and former Kimski sous chef Anthony Baier, FAFO (read: fuck around and find out) is an ambitious and playful addition to Lakeview. Esparza, who doesn’t drink alcohol, understands the importance of strong booze-free beverage choices and applying unusual approaches, and he’s reverse-engineered a version Jeppson’s Malört with herbal teas from Rare Tea Cellar.

Chiya Chai Café

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Chiya Chai imports its teas from Nepal and uses leaves creatively in both traditional and new ways in Logan Square. This is where to go when you grow up and realize that the words “chai” and “tea” are redundant when used consecutively and want to graduate from Starbucks’ pre-packaged concoctions, or whatever premixed garbage those neighborhood baristas are selling. Mocktails with ginger and chai are among the rotating specials.

Aliya Ikhumen/Eater Chicago

Billy Sunday

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Billy Sunday is a figure central to the temperance movement. Sunday was a former White Sox player who used his platform as a pulpit. There’s great fun in naming a cocktail bar after him, but the team does right by the famed teetotaler with alcohol-free drinks such as the Lupine Lady (lavender and thyme- infused verjus, lime, mint, basil) and the Cassandra Onda (Chinese rhubarb, sage, chinotto, juniper, cane).

Gazoz, seasonal sodas with fresh herbs, are a specialty in Israel, so it’s no surprise that the staff at Galit in Lincoln Park have leaned into the style for its NA offerings. There are two varieties: pomegranate (cardamom, rose, hibiscus) and Iranian sekanjabin (honey shrub, fennel seed, mint).

Bendición Dry Bar & Non-Alcoholic Bottle Shop

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In 2022, a bottle shop selling NA spirits like Bare and Everleaf debuted in Humboldt Park as a pop-up inside a plant shop called Succulent City. Bendición Dry Bar’s mission was to unite marginalized community members who were interested in reducing their booze consumption. They’ve hosted events, from queer tarot card reading to drawing classes. The hope is to build a bar inside the space for regular service. 

LIVA at Chicago Winery

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In River North, the restaurant inside Chicago Winery, a new venue with locations in New York and D.C., is slinging three NA drinks. Liva is calling these drinks Flightless Birds. There’s a negroni, a drink called Tiki-Taka (South African rooibos, ginger, black pepper, cranberry), and Hotel Evangeline (Seedlip Spice 94, pineapple, apricot, lime, cinnamon).

A white bar inside a restaurant. Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Arbella

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Arbella, the sibling to Peruvian icon Tanta, is a sleek bar with great drinking food that can make for an impromptu meal. The lounge’s bold NA drink lineup includes Smoking Kills (lemon-ginger kombucha, lime, ginger beer, infused smoke) and Secret Window (London Dry spirit-free, hibiscus, Peachtree sipping vinegar, fruit).

Three colorful cocktails on a table. Mistey Nguyen/Arbella

The Omakase Room at Sushi-San

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Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises has created a restaurant inside a restaurant with the Omakase Room at Sushi-san, capitalizing on Chicago’s increased appetite for premium fish. Diners can pick from a few NA drinks including the Broken Promise (gingerbread Roobios, sesame, five spice, almond orgeat) and Banana Brain (Genmaicha green tea, banana, sesame).

Bar Goa

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As regional Indian food finds popularity in Chicago, Bar Goa takes inspiration from Goa, the state off India’s southwestern coast that’s known for its beaches. At Bar Goa in River North, they’re mixing up booze-free drinks such as Passionately Sober (Ritual Aperitif, passionfruit simple, tonic) and Ginger Flower (hibiscus, ginger, orange, lime).

Rose Mary

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Rose Mary leans into a mix of Italian and Croatian flavors, with chef Joe Flamm and company coining the term “Adriatic drinking food,” for its menu. There’s a a full menu of NA drinks including the Groot Beer (Seedlip Spice, “rooted molasses,” lemon) and the Saturn (Lyre’s ‘Gin’, Liquid Alchemist passionfruit, farro orgeat, Don’s Mix #2, chai).

Over at lauded Japanese-inspired cocktail lair Kumiko in the West Loop, Julia Momose is mixing and muddling a number of spirit-free drinks. The Pepperberry Tonic (Tasmanian pepperberry, sanshō, angelica root, grapefruit, elderflower tonic) has become somewhat of a signature, but there are deeper cuts. The Umeboshi Swizzle (shiso-pickled ume, brown rice vinegar, lemon, Japanese seven spice) is poured over crushed ice.

Bambola

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One of the more polarizing restaurants in Chicago is in West Loop where the owners of Michelin-starred Porto opened Bambola. The menu is marketed as a trip through Silk Road, but it can also be viewed as a take on what Asian food could taste like while living in Spain. Rose & Shiso Soda (rose water, red shiso, lime leaf) is a fizzy way to enjoy a drink, and the Saffron Horchata (Afghan saffron, green cardamom, vanilla bean, basmati rice, almond, nutmeg) is another alcohol-free alternative.

Danish-inspired Elske in the West Loop offers seasonal booze-free drinks on its a la carte cocktail list, as well as a juice pairing to complement its set menu. Individual drinks include spirit-free Radler (NA kolsch, apple cider, ginger, lemon) and “Amaro” with cinnamon, ginger beer, and lime. Elske is temporarily closed for a winter break until Wednesday, February 7.

HaiSous

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Over in Pilsen, lively Vietnamese hot spot HaiSous has rolled out a line of seasonal non-alcoholic spritzes like a cherry basil spritz (Marz cherry basil CBD, lemon, Thai basil syrup) and guava lime spritz, plus a “dealer’s choice” mocktail tailored to each patron’s preferences — think bright and fresh, vegetal and herbaceous, or light and fruity.

Osito's Tap

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Osito’s Tap has a due of drinks for those who are giving booze a break, including chicha morada — a popular drink from the Andean region of Peru that’s made with purple maiz, pineapple, cinnamon, and other spices — and Deep Rooted Issues (guava nectar, grapefruit, lime, Three Spirit Nightcap), which is topped with ginger beer.

A low-lit bar interior. Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Marz Community Brewing Company

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Experimental Bridgeport taproom and brewery Marz Community Brewing Company isn’t just focusing on beer. It also offers many booze-free options, including Flower Power, a CBD-fueled elixir with ingredients like hibiscus, chamomile, and cinnamon; and Juniper Fizz, also spiked with CBD and boosted by vanilla bean, spruce, and blood orange. A second location in Bucktown also offers these concoctions.

Virtue Restaurant

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Virtue, James Beard Award winner Erick Williams’s Southern restaurant in Hyde Park offers spirit-free imbibing options. The Hummingbird is flavored with basil and lemon, while Sorrel Fizz calls for hibiscus, rosemary, vanilla, and sparkling water.

Eli Tea Bar

This Michigan import arrived in Andersonville to bring both a sober bar and in creating a welcoming space for the LGBTQ community and its allies. Eli Tea mixed up unique tea drink no other tea room or coffee shop in Chicago offers. 

A person pours red tea into glass mugs. Kim Kovacik/Eater Chicago

Nobody's Darling

The bartenders at this LGBTQ-friendly bar owned by a pair of Black women are always mixing something up lively. The menu features two drinks, but that’s just a sample of the bar’s library. Try the Desire (Lyre’s Italian Orange, passion fruit, lime, agave, habanero bitters).

A bartender holds a metal cocktail shaker inside a black-and-red bar space
This bar’s booze-free drinks showcase summer flavors all year long.
Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Bokeh

Bokeh represents an evolution of booze-free drinks as it’s a newish bar that featured an NA section on its opening menu. Some bartenders and older bars may show some disdain in mixing up an NA drink, but that’s not the case at Bokeh, where patrons can find You’re Turning Violet, Violet (blueberry juice, lemon, sage, club soda), Velvet Turtle (orange juice, balsamic reduction, strawberry, egg white, raspberry dust), and more, proving that NA drinks are more than glorified juice bars.

Anelya

James Beard Award-winning chefs Johnny Clark and Beverly Kim (Parachute) aren’t shy about alcohol at Anelya, their Ukrainian fine dining restaurant named in honor of Clark’s late grandmother Clark’s late grandmother. But alongside playful cocktails and intense vodka infusions, patrons will find a thoughtful menu of booze-free choices including a specialty Kvass (made in collaboration non-alcoholic drink retailer Proxies), cherry mykulyn soda, and Galicia apple pear juice.

The interior of Anelya restaurant. Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Warlord

Chicago’s biggest dining surprise of 2023, Warlord roared into Avondale with a brash style, loud music, and late-night hours that still draw long lines of chilly patrons even after the usual period of opening fanfare. And yet, this raucous throwback to pre-pandemic times is evolving, too, evidenced by an unexpected selection of booze-free drinks, deployed with the same exacting standards seen in the kitchen. Warlord is temporarily closed for winter break until Friday, February 2.

FAFO at Evette’s Lakeview

A defiant late-night pop-up from industry veteran Rafa Esparza and former Kimski sous chef Anthony Baier, FAFO (read: fuck around and find out) is an ambitious and playful addition to Lakeview. Esparza, who doesn’t drink alcohol, understands the importance of strong booze-free beverage choices and applying unusual approaches, and he’s reverse-engineered a version Jeppson’s Malört with herbal teas from Rare Tea Cellar.

Chiya Chai Café

Chiya Chai imports its teas from Nepal and uses leaves creatively in both traditional and new ways in Logan Square. This is where to go when you grow up and realize that the words “chai” and “tea” are redundant when used consecutively and want to graduate from Starbucks’ pre-packaged concoctions, or whatever premixed garbage those neighborhood baristas are selling. Mocktails with ginger and chai are among the rotating specials.

Aliya Ikhumen/Eater Chicago

Billy Sunday

Billy Sunday is a figure central to the temperance movement. Sunday was a former White Sox player who used his platform as a pulpit. There’s great fun in naming a cocktail bar after him, but the team does right by the famed teetotaler with alcohol-free drinks such as the Lupine Lady (lavender and thyme- infused verjus, lime, mint, basil) and the Cassandra Onda (Chinese rhubarb, sage, chinotto, juniper, cane).

Galit

Gazoz, seasonal sodas with fresh herbs, are a specialty in Israel, so it’s no surprise that the staff at Galit in Lincoln Park have leaned into the style for its NA offerings. There are two varieties: pomegranate (cardamom, rose, hibiscus) and Iranian sekanjabin (honey shrub, fennel seed, mint).

Bendición Dry Bar & Non-Alcoholic Bottle Shop

In 2022, a bottle shop selling NA spirits like Bare and Everleaf debuted in Humboldt Park as a pop-up inside a plant shop called Succulent City. Bendición Dry Bar’s mission was to unite marginalized community members who were interested in reducing their booze consumption. They’ve hosted events, from queer tarot card reading to drawing classes. The hope is to build a bar inside the space for regular service. 

LIVA at Chicago Winery

In River North, the restaurant inside Chicago Winery, a new venue with locations in New York and D.C., is slinging three NA drinks. Liva is calling these drinks Flightless Birds. There’s a negroni, a drink called Tiki-Taka (South African rooibos, ginger, black pepper, cranberry), and Hotel Evangeline (Seedlip Spice 94, pineapple, apricot, lime, cinnamon).

A white bar inside a restaurant. Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Arbella

Arbella, the sibling to Peruvian icon Tanta, is a sleek bar with great drinking food that can make for an impromptu meal. The lounge’s bold NA drink lineup includes Smoking Kills (lemon-ginger kombucha, lime, ginger beer, infused smoke) and Secret Window (London Dry spirit-free, hibiscus, Peachtree sipping vinegar, fruit).

Three colorful cocktails on a table. Mistey Nguyen/Arbella

The Omakase Room at Sushi-San

Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises has created a restaurant inside a restaurant with the Omakase Room at Sushi-san, capitalizing on Chicago’s increased appetite for premium fish. Diners can pick from a few NA drinks including the Broken Promise (gingerbread Roobios, sesame, five spice, almond orgeat) and Banana Brain (Genmaicha green tea, banana, sesame).

Bar Goa

As regional Indian food finds popularity in Chicago, Bar Goa takes inspiration from Goa, the state off India’s southwestern coast that’s known for its beaches. At Bar Goa in River North, they’re mixing up booze-free drinks such as Passionately Sober (Ritual Aperitif, passionfruit simple, tonic) and Ginger Flower (hibiscus, ginger, orange, lime).

Rose Mary

Rose Mary leans into a mix of Italian and Croatian flavors, with chef Joe Flamm and company coining the term “Adriatic drinking food,” for its menu. There’s a a full menu of NA drinks including the Groot Beer (Seedlip Spice, “rooted molasses,” lemon) and the Saturn (Lyre’s ‘Gin’, Liquid Alchemist passionfruit, farro orgeat, Don’s Mix #2, chai).

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Kumiko

Over at lauded Japanese-inspired cocktail lair Kumiko in the West Loop, Julia Momose is mixing and muddling a number of spirit-free drinks. The Pepperberry Tonic (Tasmanian pepperberry, sanshō, angelica root, grapefruit, elderflower tonic) has become somewhat of a signature, but there are deeper cuts. The Umeboshi Swizzle (shiso-pickled ume, brown rice vinegar, lemon, Japanese seven spice) is poured over crushed ice.

Bambola

One of the more polarizing restaurants in Chicago is in West Loop where the owners of Michelin-starred Porto opened Bambola. The menu is marketed as a trip through Silk Road, but it can also be viewed as a take on what Asian food could taste like while living in Spain. Rose & Shiso Soda (rose water, red shiso, lime leaf) is a fizzy way to enjoy a drink, and the Saffron Horchata (Afghan saffron, green cardamom, vanilla bean, basmati rice, almond, nutmeg) is another alcohol-free alternative.

Elske

Danish-inspired Elske in the West Loop offers seasonal booze-free drinks on its a la carte cocktail list, as well as a juice pairing to complement its set menu. Individual drinks include spirit-free Radler (NA kolsch, apple cider, ginger, lemon) and “Amaro” with cinnamon, ginger beer, and lime. Elske is temporarily closed for a winter break until Wednesday, February 7.

HaiSous

Over in Pilsen, lively Vietnamese hot spot HaiSous has rolled out a line of seasonal non-alcoholic spritzes like a cherry basil spritz (Marz cherry basil CBD, lemon, Thai basil syrup) and guava lime spritz, plus a “dealer’s choice” mocktail tailored to each patron’s preferences — think bright and fresh, vegetal and herbaceous, or light and fruity.

Osito's Tap

Osito’s Tap has a due of drinks for those who are giving booze a break, including chicha morada — a popular drink from the Andean region of Peru that’s made with purple maiz, pineapple, cinnamon, and other spices — and Deep Rooted Issues (guava nectar, grapefruit, lime, Three Spirit Nightcap), which is topped with ginger beer.

A low-lit bar interior. Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Marz Community Brewing Company

Experimental Bridgeport taproom and brewery Marz Community Brewing Company isn’t just focusing on beer. It also offers many booze-free options, including Flower Power, a CBD-fueled elixir with ingredients like hibiscus, chamomile, and cinnamon; and Juniper Fizz, also spiked with CBD and boosted by vanilla bean, spruce, and blood orange. A second location in Bucktown also offers these concoctions.

Virtue Restaurant

Virtue, James Beard Award winner Erick Williams’s Southern restaurant in Hyde Park offers spirit-free imbibing options. The Hummingbird is flavored with basil and lemon, while Sorrel Fizz calls for hibiscus, rosemary, vanilla, and sparkling water.

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